Graham Paterson is an illustrator. He is also my housemate.
He moved down from Durban at the beginning of this year to move in with me and a few of our friends. Despite initial suspicions that he couldn’t cook, he surprised all of us tonight by making the best pizza any of us have ever had – on my terrible excuse for a braai, no less.
Here’s how he did it.
First, make this easy pizza dough from Jamie Oliver (link) and roll it out into 25-30cm rounds. It’s inexpensive and relatively easy.
If you can, roll your bases approximately 5mm thick. (You can make them thinner if you want, but seeing as we use an old Milk Stout quart as a rolling pin, it’s about the best we can get. The thinner they are, the easier they’ll cook on the braai.) Stab the rounds with a fork a few times to make sure they don’t shrivel up when they go on the coals.
After they’ve rested for a bit, braai your rounds on semi-hot coals for about three minutes on each side. Just par-cook them: make sure to get a little bit of colour on each side, but also make sure that the dough stays mostly raw.
Once they’re charred, thinly spread tomato paste on one side of each base. In this instance we used plain tomato paste from a tube, but a homemade Neapolitan sauce would also work well.
Lightly sauté some onions and whatever toppings you want for your pizzas while they cool. When your toppings are lightly cooked, spread them on the bases and add a thin layer of mozzarella on top. (Don’t bother using expensive cheese with this recipe – the smoke from the braai will likely overpower any light notes in good buffalo mozzarella. On saying that, however, blue cheese would work excellently.)
Chuck your pizzas on the braai, and cover with the lid. If you don’t own a Weber, cover it up with a cardboard box lined with aluminium foil like we did. This way the coal chars the bottom of the base and the heat trapped in the lid or box cooks your toppings and lightly melts the cheese.
For best results, only put your bases on the braai after the coals have been burning for anywhere between 70 and 90 minutes. Any earlier and you could risk charring the undersides of the base a bit too much. It won’t ruin the pizza, but the char might be too strong for some.
When the cheese is lightly melted and the bottom lightly charred, cut and serve.
Enjoy with any beer you wish. I chose Castle Milk Stout: the char on the base and the heavy roast on Milk Stout’s malt went together like a dream.
This recipe might seem like difficult work, but it is a lot more rewarding (not to mention a lot cheaper) than ordering pizza in. The dough is probably the most difficult part, but once you’ve made pizza dough a few times, it becomes second nature, even to an unnatural cook like me.